On Friday (July 4) I paid a visit to the much hyped street food venue operating inside of Lewisham’s disused Model Mark (locally known as the ‘black market’ for many years).
For those of you who don’t know, the Model Market has been transformed in to a “trendy new street food venue”, organised by Street Feast who run a similar project in ‘hipsterville’ Hackney, east London.
When I first heard about the transformation and then looked through photographs taken at the launch I just rolled my eyes, sighed and said “the gentrification of Lewisham has begun”.
The whole set up just did not appeal to me, but my mum was keen to sample what the market had to offer so I agreed to go with her.
The Model Market has been closed for a number of years so it was strange seeing the back entrance which is located next door to Lewisham Shopping Centre wide open again.
As we entered a young woman standing on the far left (a Street Feast employee) caught my attention by shouting in an accusing tone of voice ” EXCUSE ME…THERE IS A QUEUE!”.
Upon approaching the market (unless it was invisible) there was no sign of a queue ( no one was lined up in single file waiting to enter and there was no velvet rope in sight). All I saw was a small group of people standing some distance away from the entrance, who did not give the impression they were waiting to go in. Other visitors also made the same mistake and just walked in (something we were all once free to do back in the day). Like us they saw no sign of a queue and were made to feel as if they were intentionally jumping one.
After I pointed this out to Ms Street Feast three MAJOR FAILS acting as security personnel who suddenly remembered they had jobs to do quickly rushed out, dressed all in black and wearing ear pieces.
Had the Model Market turned into an exclusive nightclub? Was President Obama paying us a visit or were they just hired to keep out undesirable locals?
One of the security guards who wore his beard like rapper Rick Ross barked ” ARE YOU IN THE QUEUE?” . I shot him a look and then proceeded to count to ten.
Seconds later Ms Street Feast gestured to us to come inside, where her colleague stamped our wrists (see pic above). I was just about to make my way towards one of the food stalls when she hit me with the news that there was also a £3.00 entry fee.
By now I was already rattled and hearing that I had to pay a small fee to enter a market that I had walked through (free of charge) for YEARS since I was knee-high, almost pushed me right over the edge.
Up until this point I was under the impression that entry in to the market was free of charge and that you only paid for food and beverages. Also the flyer I received advertising the event neglected to mention the entry free.
If it was not for my mum I would have spun right around and headed home, but she insisted on seeing the ‘transformed’ market.
I grudgingly paid £6.00 to walk though a derelict Model Market.
So many different emotions swept over me when I saw what these “trendy” middle class creatives had done to the place. The spaces where I used to buy my CDs, hair accessories/products , African-Caribbean themed greeting cards, clothes, delicious Jamaican meat patties, bun and hard dough bread – all gone and now occupied by traders selling smoothies and exotic cocktails along with a variety of different cuisines.
A lot of memories came flooding back. It saddened me to see that the old traders were no longer there (apparently forced out under protest) and the large Afro Caribbean hair salon (once packed with clients every weekend) is now just an empty shell.
For me the entire Model Market vibe (the crowd, the decor, the nonsense we encountered on entry) just screamed the first signs of gentrification. I now have an even better understanding of what long time Brixton residents are going through.
I left the market annoyed and frustrated 15 minutes later.
However don’t get me wrong, things do change and I welcome change, just so long as that change doesn’t involve a major face lift that resembles the worst offender of gentrification, Shoreditch.
Model Market runs for 15 Fridays and Saturdays until September 27.
(It would not surprise me if they decide to extend the run due to “popular demand”).
Categories: UK News